Jackie Link's Blog

- A blog for no good reason

Friday, September 07, 2007

Sassi in Matera, Italy

I'm just up to May 31st, or half-way through my last trip - I see no reason to rush getting through all 23 gigabytes of pixels I brought home. Heck, I haven't even finished the photos from last September in the Loire Valley and Paris, either.

I was amused by these young men working on top of a ledge in the Sassi - laptops and cell phones were in use everywhere we went - the whole world is connected.

While waiting for the right light, we met this man drawing water from what I'd thought was a non-functional pump. He filled his two buckets with water and then invited us to follow him.

We went with him through the narrow, winding streets until we came to an old wooden door, which he unlocked and slowly pushed open, signaling us to follow, and then closed the door behind us. Inside was the filthiest hen house and dove cote I've ever seen; I nearly gagged from the stench. The only light came from openings near the ceiling. The chickens were bedraggled, pitiful creatures; the doves were up high and able to come and go freely, and so were clean and healthy looking. He emptied the water into the troughs, talking to us the while in rapid Italian, which I couldn't understand; DB perhaps could, at least enough to get the gist.

I held my breath.

He next walked us, again through winding narrow streets, up some stairs to another door and into his kitchen - a stark contrast - spotlessly clean - to show us a photo he'd taken of fireworks in the Sassi.

I wondered, later, to DB how the chickens could be kept in such filth when he was clearly a person who valued cleanliness (he, in fact, worked in a hospital E.R.), and he said, Because that is the way they have always kept their chickens. That is the way chickens are kept. Period.

Next, we followed him through more ancient twisting streets, with him unlocking gates and old wooden doors, until we went down into a dank cave of several rooms - I believe carved out of the mountain - full of huge wine vats and barrels and a very old press. We climbed a ladder to peer into the huge stone basin where they'd once stomped grapes with bare feet - but they no longer did that, he said.

He rinsed out a glass and opened a tap on one of the vats, offering us his wine. It was quite good. He then filled a liter bottle for us to take, and a 5-liter jug to take with him on the train to Rome, where he was going to visit his son the next day.

On our way out he indicated that the caves had been used to hide Jews during the war, but with a clearly embarrassed demeanor, indicated they were removed and shot. It's not clear who did the shooting.

We parted company, stunned, and went back on location for taking our night shots.

We had a very late dinner that night, but we carried crackers and odds and ends of things to keep going.

The next morning we were up early to get back to shoot the poppies against the Sassi in the early light.

Maybe I already told this story when I was first working some of these images in Paris (where I enjoyed our vino) - I don't remember. I'm just now working on more of the images and I have to go back to my few notes to label them; it seems good to put what I wrote here. At any rate, it gives me an excuse to post more photos from the trip.

What else am I going to do with them all?

No comments: